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How you can help slow Georgia's climbing traffic death rate

The number of annual traffic deaths in Georgia has not risen since hitting an all-time high in 2007. Unfortunately, that trend seems likely to change this year.

According to AAA, nearly 700 people have died in car accidents in our state so far this year. That number is 14 percent higher than the number at this time last year and puts the state on track to record 1,300 traffic deaths for the year. So, what makes this year different, and what can we, as drivers, do to prevent crashes?

Although a recent news story offered no hard data on why the rate of accidents is on the rise, one police officer pointed to distracted driving. Cellphones in particular, he said, cause drivers to take their eyes off the road to send a text or make a call. Sadly, it only takes a few seconds of inattention to cause a crash.

While it may not seem like it, there is a positive side this disheartening news: We can do something about it.

It starts with protecting yourself by wearing a seat belt, which could save you if you are involved in an accident. Next, you can do your part by putting your phone away and out of reach and keeping your eyes on the road. Finally, ask yourself if you are really in the right condition to drive. If you have been drinking alcohol or are short on sleep, you may want to call a cab or get a ride from a friend instead of driving yourself.

Imagine what could happen if every driver in Georgia followed these three simple steps. It is not far-fetched to presume that our roads would be much safer and our current trend in traffic fatalities may be reversed.

Source: Fox 31, "Traffic deaths on the rise in Georgia," Sasha Lenninger, July 14, 2015

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